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At a Board of Zoning Adjustment meeting this morning, the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial asked for and recieved a two-year extension on its application to start construction at the National Bank Building on 14th Street downtown—also recognizable by its “Hahn Shoes” awning. The Business Journal‘s Michael Niebauer finds out why: They’ve been hit by a massive tax bill, plus a lawsuit from a donor who wants his money back.
Last February, McClatchy identified the disgruntled giver as Gerard Cafesjian, who had donated over $15 million for the purchase of the building and several surrounding properties. A court order from March contains the full, sordid story of beefing Armenians. In a (very small) nutshell, Cafesjian executed a Memorandum of Agreement to reclaim his donation and filed a lien against the building because, as he said, the Museum trustees were planning to scale back the development of the Bank building and surrounding properties. In what she called “a very bitter and unfortunate dispute,” a U.S. District Court Judge has refused both parties’ appeals for a summary judgement on most counts, and the litigation continues.
Would that there could be some temporary urbanism on that blighted corner in the mean time.
* The original headline of this post said “Armenian Genocide Museum Falls Victim to Vacant Property Tax, Internal Strife.” However, the Museum was only taxed at the standard commercial property tax rate, not the higher vacant rate.